A-A-R-P — the nation’s largest advocacy group for seniors — is hosting six of the Democratic presidential candidates at a forum in Des Moines this afternoon. A-A-R-P executive director Bill Novelli says the candidates will be pressed for details on Social Security reform, health care reform and how they’d provide a prescription drug benefit through Medicare. Novelli says the time has come find practical solutions to the problems associated with America’s aging population. Novelli says whoever is elected president in 2004 is going to have to face the challenges presented by aging of the Baby Boom Generation because some of the Boomers will start to collect Social Security in 2008 when they reach the age of 62. Novelli says that’s why the issues must be dealt with now. This morning, A-A-R-P released a survey of Iowa voters which found nearly two-thirds believe the nation’s headed in the wrong direction. Bruce Koepple, A-A-R-P’s Iowa director, says 802 Iowa voters age 50 and over were questioned. Koepple says the fact 64 percent of Iowans who intend to attend the Caucuses believe the country’s on the wrong track should serve as a “wake-up call to the candidates.” Three-hundred-65 thousand Iowans are A-A-R-P members, but just a few hundred will attend this afternoon’s democratic candidate forum which gets underway at three o’clock and is scheduled to end at five. A-A-R-P has invited President Bush to participate in a similar forum in January.
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